The goddess of the dawn, Aurora, fell in love with the shepherd Cephalus. She eventually seized him at daybreak, bringing him to the heavens while he slept — the scene Girodet has painted here. Later, missing his wife, Procris, Cephalus begs to return. Aurora agrees, giving him a magic spear that kills every target, including his wife, when he mistakes her for an animal in the brush.
(Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art).